Since 1996, ZERO – The End of Prostate Cancer, has been hard at work trying to stop this cancer, which is one of the most common forms of the disease.1
September, being Prostate Cancer Awareness Month (PCAM), provides one of the biggest opportunities for the charity to spread its message, as people across the US unite to raise awareness of the disease.
Last year, Change Together caught up with Colony Brown, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at ZERO Cancer, about the organization’s ‘Faces of Hope’ social media campaign that highlighted real-life experiences of prostate cancer.
ZERO is continuing its trend of innovative awareness efforts for 2017, launching the ‘Count Me In’ campaign, focusing on early detection, to continue to drive prostate cancer patient advocacy and awareness across the country.
“For us, the Count Me In campaign is a way to continue to engage patient advocates and help them understand what else they can be doing,” says Brown. “We realized that people wanted to be counted in their efforts and given the ability to keep advocating for the cause whenever they can.”
Created after ZERO’s annual Prostate Cancer Summit, Count Me In is different to its previous awareness campaigns in that people sign up to be a part of it. Doing so moves them on from simply sharing stories about prostate cancer to being members of an active awareness community, says Brown.
When members of the public sign up through the ZERO website, they are taken to a Count Me In portal that gives them materials for four different awareness activities: educating, speaking up, donating and fundraising.
“Making all of our awareness materials accessible to community members means a more invested and empowered community who are more active in their attempts to raise awareness,” explains Brown.
Keeping a narrative
All of ZERO’s campaigns are educational in nature. But what it found particularly effective in last year’s Faces of Hope campaign was the inspirational narrative that accompanied the educational materials.
“We found that people digest more information through storytelling means, like in our Faces of Hope campaign,” Brown continues. “That’s something we’re carrying on this year as a core feature of Count Me In.”
To keep the narrative thread going, ZERO will leverage its social media channels, using the #CountMeIn hashtag alongside infographics and personal stories to encourage dialogue with its community.
At the same time, the community can continue to inspire and be inspired by any of ZERO’s 17 run/walk events that are taking place during the month.
As mentioned, all Count Me In activities during this year’s PCAM have a specific theme: early detection.
A subject that continues to remain controversial in the US, effective screening and early detection of prostate cancer can mean the difference between life and death. Prostate cancer that is localized or has spread to nearby tissues has a five-year survival rate of almost 100% – that number drops to around 30% if it has spread to distant parts of the body.2
One of the main ways to screen for prostate cancer is prostate specific antigen (PSA) testing. On April 11, the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) upgraded its recommendation for the PSA test from a D to a C, the first rating change in 10 years. This means that clinicians are now advised to hold an informed conversation about PSA testing with men between 55 and 69, and offer testing for certain patients depending on individual circumstances.3
It takes time for this information to trickle through to physicians, says Brown, “which is all the more reason for this year’s campaign to focus on early detection.
“Count Me In serves as an important platform to encourage more dialogue about these kinds of changes,” she concludes. “We feel that some men are in the shadows about screening and early detection; we desperately need to bring these subjects to light so more men are screened and, ultimately, survive.”
Click here to find out more about ZERO’s Count Me In campaign.
- GLOBOCAN 2012 (IARC). Prostate Cancer: Estimated Incidence, Mortality and Prevalence Worldwide in 2012. Available at: http://globocan.iarc.fr/old/FactSheets/cancers/prostate-new.asp
- American Cancer Society. Survival Rates for Prostate Cancer. Accessed August 2017. Available at: https://www.cancer.org/cancer/prostate-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html
- US Preventive Services Task Force. Draft Recommendation Statement, Prostate Cancer: Screening. Accessed August 2017. Available at: https://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/Page/Document/draft-recommendation-statement/prostate-cancer-screening1